African Warrior can boost his Cape Guineas claims by landing the Concorde Cup at Kenilworth tomorrow although there are serious doubts about whether he is as superior to the opposition as the official ratings would suggest.
Assessments based on two-year-old running in Durban at two can sometimes fail to stand up simply because many trainers, and particularly those in Cape Town, prefer not to test their juveniles to the full as they believe a more patient approach will pay dividends in the long term.
However African Warrior, rated 112 after winning the Umkhomazi Stakes, was reassessed at 115 after his first Cape Town start when he took a 2 ¼ length fifth to One World in the Matchem from a poor draw.
“That was his best performance so far,” says Dean Kannemeyer who is bidding for his seventh win in this race. “He has to give a kilo to the whole field and it’s his first time at a mile. I think he should get it and all has gone well with him.”
Stable companion Seventh Gear is rated 7.5kg behind him but their trainer does not accept this as a true reading of their comparative ability and says: “African Warrior has earned his stripes and his rating but I think a lot of Seventh Gear.”
African Warrior is 13-10 favourite and the market leader has won four of the last ten runnings. Seventh Gear is second best at 9-2 with 6-1 about Viva Rio (who has won his last three) and Sachdev who flopped in the Cape Classic.
“I am hoping you will see a very different horse on Saturday,” says Justin Snaith. “We were disappointed with Sachdev’s run in the Cape Classic and we took his blood afterwards – I would like to have seen it better.”
Glen Kotzen, who brought off a 28-1 shock with Gold Standard three years ago, says: “I have rated Viva Rio from day one and after we gelded him he came good. He is a very smart horse.”
In the Racing Association Stakes over this trip at Fairview four weeks ago Viva Rio beat the smart Cane Lime ‘n Soda (an 8-1 chance here) by more than three lengths but part owner Robert Bloomberg reckons there were valid excuses – “They went slow and our horse was caught flat-footed. I think he can reverse the form.”
Macthief, third in the ratings, is on offer at as much as 11-1, largely because he only managed fifth in the Cape Classic but seemingly not too much notice should be taken of this. “He was giving 2kg to those who finished in front of him, he was not well drawn and he was last away. I thought he ran well,” argues Brett Crawford, “and I think he will run a big race.”
The rest are longshots but, if you fancy any of them, don’t let their price put you off. Twice in the last three years there has been a major upset with Rocket Countdown at 36-1 following on from Gold Standard.
The Cape Merchants is a difficult race to assess but it is worth noting that four-year-olds have won three of the last four runnings and that no winner has carried more than 58kg since the Stan Elley-trained Kapil humped 60kg ten years ago. A repeat of this statistic would rule out 7-2 favourite Pleasedtomeetyou.
Elusive Trader (16-1) might well get into the shake-up but the vote goes to 10-1 shot What A Winner who was beaten half a length by stable companion Russet Air (9-2) last time and is now 2.5kg better.
By Michael Clower